“He’s ecstatic,” said Cunningham’s attorney Michael Caspino. “I could tell he had tears in his eyes and he kept thanking God.”
Following an emergency injunction filed by Caspino’s team on Sept. 22, Judge Layne H. Melzer told the CIF they had until Sept. 27 to complete an investigation into whether or not the coaching staff at Los Alamitos tampered in his recruitment prior to the transfer window opening.
Ultimately, the CIF did not find substantial enough evidence in order to shut down Cunningham’s request, and has officially cleared the top defensive line recruit to take the field as soon as this week.
“We are ecstatic to see T.A. take the field this week and are appreciative of the thorough process conducted by CIF,” Los Alamitos High School coach Ray Fenton told The NIL Deal.
In July, Cunningham moved to California following his family’s eviction from their home in Georgia with the hope of joining the Levels Sports Group and earning NIL deals to support his family as the company offered him housing and transportation.
By August, Cunningham was moving couch to couch after Levels Sports Group co-founder Chris Flores – who Cunningham was living with at the time – was arrested on multiple accounts of sexual assault of a minor.
Initially, Cunningham was deemed illegible by the CIF because his transfer request on the grounds of hardship did not meet the definition of a “homeless student” and/or has failed to establish that his change of school was due to a hardship.”
The CIF would later drop that objection, instead launching an investigation on “undue influence,” stating Los Alamitos illegally recruited Cunningham.
This case has been a landmark case in the NIL era, as Cunningham’s situation shows the negative side NIL can have on an athlete, particularly at the high school level. With Cunningham agreeing to terms with the Levels Group in good faith, the result was a batch of false promises and an almost life-altering meltdown for the junior lineman.
Thankfully for Cunningham, now that the case has been closed, he can go back to focusing on his work in the classroom and on the football field.
The No. 1 defensive lineman in California will suit up for his debut against Newport Harbor this weekend, a game Cunningham and his family are anxiously looking forward to.